Political Insiders: Republicans Divided on How to Address Gay Marriage

Alex Roarty, Naureen Khan and Peter Bell

Which statement comes closest to your political views on gay marriage?


My party should support it: 97%
My party should oppose it: 0%
My party should avoid the issue: 2%
Other: 1%

My party should support it

“Marriage equality is a vote-getter for Democrats and a vote-loser for the party of the last century, the Republicans.”

“More and more states are adopting marriage equality, and it is time for the U.S.A. to lead on this issue.”

“No issue has changed more dramatically than support for gay marriage over the last 10 years. In 20 years, it won’t even be an issue.”

“It’s a nonissue. Americans support the concept. Let’s move on!”

“Duh ... Obama did—we won.”

“Besides being the right thing to do, there are very few places left in the country where it would be a political negative any more.”

“The Democratic Party is the party of equality and civil rights. Period. The End.”

“Much like immigration, this is now good policy and good politics.”

“Same-sex marriage has gone from ‘OMG’ to ‘NBD’—no big deal, unless, of course, you are Republican stuck in a time warp. Time to move on.”

“The president’s change of heart was a wise decision and paid dividends in November. ”

“It’s good policy and good politics. In the Election Day exit poll, a plurality of voters favored gay marriage. Gay marriage is very popular with two parts of the new Democratic base, young and female voters.”

“That ship has sailed. We should. We do. And we will.”

“It is the issue of our generation, and it’s better to get it right than to continue to pretend it’s not a fundamental right.”

My party should avoid the issue

“The courts will eventually settle this as they did with Roe v. Wade.”


Which statement comes closest to your political views on gay marriage?


My party should support it: 27%
My party should oppose it: 11%
My party should avoid the issue: 48%
Other: 14%

My party should support it

“Wouldn’t it be fascinating if, for once, the Republicans were on the front side of a historic wave, rather than thrashed around in the undertow?”

“There is a conservative case in favor of gay marriage that can easily be made around the issues of smaller government and lower taxes.”

“We can’t be a party that supports a zone of personal freedom and then try to use federal power to curtail it. Plus, we increasingly look prejudiced, and not a little stupid, on this issue.”

My party should oppose it

“Principles require courage. No one, even gays, will—or should—respect a party without principles. And there are very sound and practical reasons for Christian, Jewish, and Islamic opposition to homosexual marriage.”

My party should avoid the issue

“It is what it is, and it is not going away—more and more, people do not care.”

“Focus of the party should be on core issues only—economic growth and national security. Everything else should be left to individual discretion.”

“Government doesn’t need to be in every facet of our lives. Politically, we should probably avoid the issue so as not to alienate the base, but Ted Olson is right.... This is a basic right, and if forced to a discussion, we should support it.”

“The lines have been drawn on this. Such a polarizing topic, and given other pressing issues, this is a red herring with dynamite taped to its back. No good can come from messing with it.”


Politically speaking, was President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel to the post of Defense secretary the right one?


Yes: 58%
No: 15%
Too early to tell: 27%


“He has the credentials, his selection is a good show of bipartisanship, and Republicans look like fools opposing him.”

“Remarkable Republicans opposed to: a) a Republican, b) a former senator, and c) someone who was right on the Iraq war. Haven’t they learned anything in the past decade?”

“His whole life has been training for this job, and he seems willing to go where the facts lead. I’ll take that.”

“He is the perfect leader to wind down the ‘good war’ and tame the Pentagon’s spending appetite. Lindsey Graham ought to appreciate that.”

“Defense issues will come into play as the budget talks heat up. Having a Republican who supports defense cuts as your secretary of Defense cannot hurt.”


“Just too much of a loose cannon. He is not the guy I would have picked a fight over.”

“Choosing a Republican, however liberal, sends a message that a Democrat’s not capable of doing the job.”

“President is spending his political capital in the wrong way with this fight.”

“Why pick a fight on Israel?”

Too early to tell

“No natural constituency for him—Republicans don’t like him, some Democrats don’t like that the president picked another Republican for Defense secretary. Still, barring some new info coming out that disqualifies him, he likely will be confirmed.”

“If he is confirmed, it was the right move.”

“It depends on Hagel’s demeanor and answers during the [confirmation] process.”

“I don’t understand why Democratic presidents think there aren’t good Democrats for this job. It makes it look like we only trust Republicans to run the military.”


Politically speaking, was President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel to the post of Defense secretary the right one?


Yes: 16%
No: 52%
Too early to tell: 32%


“Yes, politically, because either the president will get the person he wants; he’ll divide the Republicans; [or] he’ll make the GOP look bad if they defeat one of their own.”

“Obama puts a Republican in charge of gutting the Defense Department.”

“Few of these elected officials have actual combat experience. It is easy to recommend aggressive foreign policy if neither you nor your children have served.”

“He’ll win in the end, and GOP’s knee-jerk reaction will be to oppose and lose.”


“Obama thinks he is confronting Republicans, but Democrats have a problem with Hagel as well.”

“He didn’t need to pick this fight, and if he wins, Hagel will be a regular source of irritation for the White House—just like he was to his Senate colleagues.”

“Hagel is simply not the right person for the job; this is a job that needs competence—not a camera hog.”

“You’ve really got to work hard to antagonize members of both parties with one nomination.”

“Makes sense only as an ‘in your face’ response to GOP bagging of Susan Rice.”

“Ask Chuck Schumer.”

“He is a divider. No one wants him except Obama.”

Too early to tell

“Hagel is the political equivalent of picking Joe Biden as VP. There might be some errands he will be good at, but mostly it will be an exercise in waiting for something to go amiss.”

“Hagel is just a stalking horse for the real nominee.”

“The pious and principled Hagel is moving quickly to reject his previous bigoted and insensitive comments—doubtful too many former colleagues will believe him.”


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